COLORADO SPRINGS — If you've been driving around Colorado Springs, or browsing the internet, you've probably noticed a lot more ads and signs telling you to vote yes on Trails, Open Space, and Parks, also known as TOPS.
Signs and ads are not free, and the money for them has to come from somewhere. In the last month, the committee YES for Trails, Open Space and Parks raised over $135,000, and they have put it to use.
We here at News5 looked into it, and we broke down who's funding the committee so you can be informed before turning in your ballot.
If the measure passes, the money will be earmarked for a few specific purposes. It will help preserve fragile ecosystems around the city, conserve natural resources, acquire and maintain open space lands and trails, and acquire, develop, and maintain parks.
The measure will raise the current sales and use tax from .1% to .2%, and the tax will be extended through 2041. For consumers, this will mean that for every $10 you spend, 2 cents will go to the TOPS fund, rather than the 1 cent previously. The current tax is set to end in 2025.
According to the Trail and Open Spaces Coalition, which is in favor of increasing the tax, the average per household cost would be $14 per year.
The issue appears on the November 2, 2021 Special Municipal Election, which is run in coordination with the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder.
The initiative also changes the way the TOPS money can be spent. Currently, the money from the TOPS tax is earmarked for three purposes. A minimum of 60% of the money is for land and trail acquisition, a maximum of 20% goes to building new trails and maintaining old ones, and the last 20% is earmarked for maintenance and expansion of the parks around the city.
If the new proposal passes, the way the money is spent changes. Up to 25% would be used for maintenance and operations of city parks, and no more than 5% would be used for administration.
The remaining 75% of the money would be divided into three separate categories. 40% of this figure would be used for acquisition, development, and upkeep of city parks, 30% for acquisition, development, and upkeep of trails, and 30% for acquisition, development, and maintenance of open space lands.
Any money spent would be based on the recommendations of an advisory committee and subject to independent audits.
For a breakdown on where to vote in El Paso County and what is on the rest of the ballot, you can follow this link: News5 Voting Locations and Ballot Initiatives Guide for El Paso County
News5 Election Guide